Whatever Amount of Alcohol You're Drinking Is Too Much, Says New Research

Henrietta Brewer
August 24, 2018

There is no safe level of alcohol consumption, according to a major global study.

However, researchers are saying that to actually be truly healthy, going teetotal is the only way.

"The conclusions of the study are clear and unambiguous: alcohol is a colossal global health issue and small reductions in health-related harms at low levels of alcohol intake are outweighed by the increased risk of other health-related harms, including cancer", said Robyn Burton, from the King's College London.

Co-author Emmanuela Gakidou, also from the University of Washington said alcohol could have dire ramifications for future population health in the absence of urgent policy action worldwide. Twenty-five percent are women, who consumed 0.73 drinks each day.

A new study finds there is no amount of liquor, wine or beer that is safe for a person's overall health.

The findings add robust support to a number of studies that highlight the drawbacks of alcohol consumption despite that other, modest research found an association between light to moderate drinking and extended life.


The study, published on August 23, focused on alcohol use and health effects in people in 195 countries between 1990 and 2016.

However, it's hard to estimate the risks for a person who drinks fairly infrequently - such as someone who has one drink every two weeks - so the findings might not necessarily apply to this population.

"The level of consumption that minimises health loss due to alcohol use is zero", the authors wrote. The highest number of alcohol drinkers is in Denmark (95.3 per cent women and 97.1 per cent men) while the lowest are in Pakistan for men (0.8 per cent) and Bangladesh for women (0.3 per cent).

In addition to the prevalence of alcohol-related disease, the study also looked at injuries and death resulting from alcohol consumption, such as road accidents and self-harm.

For all ages, alcohol was associated with 2.8 million deaths that year.

"We're used to hearing that a drink or two a day is fine".


The researchers calculated that people who have one standard drink (10 grams of pure alcohol) a day have a 0.5 percent higher risk of one of 23 alcohol-related health problems than teetotalers.

"The study confirms that alcohol is one of the world's leading causes of disability, disease and death", Humphreys said.

The study found that for people aged 15-49, alcohol was the most important risk factor, account for 3.8% of women's deaths and 12.2% of men's.

The study found that moderate drinking was, in fact, protective against ischemic heart disease.

At the time, England's chief medical officer, Prof Dame Sally Davies, noted that any amount of alcohol could increase the risk of cancer.

Men in Romania who partake knocked back a top-scoring eight drinks a day on average, with Portugal, Luxembourg, Lithuania and Ukraine just behind at seven "units" per day.


"This study is a stark reminder of the real, and potentially lethal, dangers that too much alcohol can have on our health and that even the lowest levels of alcohol intake increase our risks", Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners in the United Kingdom, said in a statement.

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